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In the recent past, Indian civil aviation sector has grown manifold. ‘Open Sky to All’ policy adopted by the Govt. of India in 1992 clears the entry of Private carriers into the field. The monopoly of state owned carrier ends up with the entry of several new players in the industry and many more are about to enter the arena. Apart from the state-owned airline, a number of private companies have entered the arena, thereby providing more choices to the passenger.

Today, air travel is no more the monopoly of the rich and the mighty. With the arrival of cheap airline carriers in India, air travel has become simpler and cheaper. The population of air travelers in domestic area in 2010 (Jan –Oct) has reached a sizeable figure of 419.34 lakhs compared to the figure of 2002-03 as 77.03 lakhs. The high growth rates in air travel services in the country is likely to continue in future also Now, airline has become a common man’s vehicle and revolutionized the way a common Indian traveler used to travel. The airlines are adding more and more cities to their list of destinations covered throughout the country.

Therefore, it can be said that the domestic airlines of India have made traveling easier for the masses. More and more people are opting for traveling by air, because they save a lot of time in traveling, as compared to other means of transportation.. But it has been observed that Airlines are not providing services adequately to their client users, resulting in dissatisfaction among the passengers right from booking the ticket to boarding the aircraft. It is observed a large number of consumer disputes arise out of deficiency in service provided by the airlines.

NCH is receiving complaints from the Air travelers of different airlines ranging from 20 to 30 complaints on an average per month. Complaints are received against Domestic sector as well as International Airlines. The number of complaints is much higher in domestic private airlines than that of International sector.


Frequently occurring problems are:

• Cancellation /Rescheduling of Flights /Delays are normal practice.
• Poor responses while enquiring on phones.
• Misinformation provided by Airlines staff when called on phones.
• Promised services are not provided.
• Long procedure in getting refund or even denial of refund.
• Denying boarding to the passengers having valid ticket and reported at proper check - in time at the last moment due to over booking or some unknown reasons.
• Misleading advertisement luring passengers inviting free travel.
• Misinformation on confirmed booking.
• Unfriendly terms and conditions framed by the private airlines which caused discomfort to the passengers
• Loss of baggage for which compensations are not paid or when paid it is very meager. • Pilferage of baggage.
• No proper guidance when the passengers are in harness.
• Misbehavior at the counter.
• Minor fault in booking through airlines/agents net may cost dearer to the passenger.

Advocacy:

As there is no Regulatory Authority or any Govt. Ombudsman in this sector to control Airlines Activities, grievances of passengers are not redressed properly and remain unsolved. NCH have appraised the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Director General of Civil Aviation about passenger grievances and requested for creating Regulatory Body in this sector.

Public dissatisfaction leads DGCA to frame several Civil Aviation Requirement Rules ( CAR ) on passenger facilities like revised refund rules , compensation on denial of boarding cases , declaration of consolidated fares with clear understanding of break-up components etc. Several Gazette notifications has been recently issued under this head.

Ministry of Civil Aviation /DGCA as a nodal body in airlines sector have provided guidelines and norms facilitating to the passengers. Some Draft CAR rules are yet under finalization. Ministry of Civil Aviation has created a Regulatory Body AERA (Airport Economic Regulatory Authority) to regulate Economic operation in this sector. Few Consumer organizations are nominated to this body. Besides, NCH have established convergence program with Kingfisher, Airdeccan (Now amalgamated with Kingfisher) etc. Passenger complaints
against NACIL (Air India/ Indian Airlines), Spice jet, Jetairways, Go-air and Indigo airlines are also regularly forwarded to the respective airlines for redressal. CONSUMER VOICE, an associate of NCH have conducted country wide survey on the “Quality of services (AQS) rendered by Domestic Airlines in India.”

The report is considered as “Magnum Opus” in airlines survey which has now been published and acclaimed recognition as steps towards formation of Govt. Regulator/ OMBUDSMAN to look after the passenger grievance. Along with VOICE SOCIETY we are engaged in an advocacy exercises to persuade the Ministry of Civil Aviation to set up an Airlines Ombudsman. The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has set up a Working Group under Civil Aviation Economic Advisory Council (CAEAC) to examine this matter. First meeting of working group was held on 26th Feb. 2011.

Redressal System:

1st Tier - First hand complaints are required to be made with the CRCs/ Nodal officers of the respective Airlines.

2nd Tier- If no result is achieved, complainants can forward their case to the Nodal Officer, DGCA for redressal.

3rd Tier- Complainants can move to Consumer Forum for redressal.
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